Aliens out there: Friends or Foes?

Aliens out there: Friends or Foes

Aliens out there: Friends or Foes?

Welcome back to the starship Patrick Henry. Are Aliens out there Friends or Foes?

A Diverse Universe

I sit at my laptop, looking out at the rugged Catalina Mountains east of Tucson, and I can’t help wondering about what other sentient species experience in their daily lives. What do the mountains look like on the homeworld of the ancient, reptilian race called Saurians by humans? Do the Dengathi frog people live in pools, or lakeside pads, or on dry land, and are they really as intellectually challenged as Tyler Matthews believes, or only when viewed through the lens of Terran anthropocentrism?

Are the Rek Kett—who look like fat, humanoid, dried mud creatures—all as pompous as the officious Senior Captain Zalaar-17, who tried to impound Tyler’s Sioux City and summarily sentenced him to death for being a lawyer? What about other spacefaring creatures—the Yegosian insectoids, and the “Zenji, dog-faced humanoids who usually walked upright but dropped to all fours for faster movement” mentioned in Jump Gate Omega?

A Peaceful Universe?

I’d like to think all sentient creatures, who achieved Faster Than Light travel, have also achieved a nonbelligerent demeanor along their route to the stars. In the book you maybe just finished, Tyler discovers the civilizations of Andromeda reached this advanced consciousness long ago. Maybe that was my Emerson/Thoreau/M.L. King/New Thought tendencies seeping into the storyline. Maybe the degree of cooperation required for a society to achieve starflight demands at the very least something approaching the golden rule to function at that level.

Or Endless Struggles?

Or maybe the fascists and other dictators and absolute monarchs were right. Too much cooperation eventually stalls the mechanism of progress. If the election of Donald Trump proves anything, it demonstrates that vilification of the alien can motivate people to action as effectively as the anti-war Hippies or the Civil Rights Movement ever imagined. Mussolini made the trains run on time.

Do we look outward at a Cosmos riddled with endless struggles for supremacy? Is the most effective universal maxim not “Do unto Others” but “Dominate or be Dominated”? The Star Lawyers “Universe” considers peace and war as the Ying and Yang of sentient species. More about this in future books.

Star Lawyers

Star Lawyers practice law in the Milky Way, where nothing resembling universal concord has prevailed thus far. Yet, most FTL races are at least tolerant of their neighbors, motivated in part by economics and the need for interstellar trade. Rare metals, information exchange and scientific breakthroughs, art and music and manufactured goods, even something as basic as water or breathable gases—the desire for commodities give peace a chance, if only because all creatures, to paraphrase the ancient Greeks, want the beautiful and the good.

I find myself wondering if the sci-fi community—writers and readers—are the visionaries who will, in the words of Jesse Jackson, “Keep hope alive.” We need to believe that a just, peaceful, prosperous future awaits all sentient beings, or the dream dies with our generation. Tell your children to dream of the day we break the FTL barrier and open the Cosmos to humanity. Go to the stars expecting to find new friends, treading carefully while packing serious “don’t even think about it” hardware in case the neighbors are not happy about hairless apes moving into their Gated community.

Humanity will one day boldly go there

But I believe with all my heart that humanity will one day boldly go there. As a progressive Christian, I also believe the Divine Source of all sentient beings makes us all equal. In the words of the poet Alice Meynell:

Doubtless we shall compare together, hear

A million alien Gospels, in what guise

He trod the Pleiades, the Lyre, the Bear.

Keep hope alive. Believe the science to support FTL will happen. See your descendants crewing the starships and tilling the soils of unclaimed, unnamed, unknown worlds.

And if they get in trouble with their neighbors, maybe somebody like Tyler Noah Matthews IV will rush to defend them in alien courts of law.

“Dr. Tom”

Tucson, AZ

Knife Fight at Olathe-5

Jump Gate Omega (Star Lawyers Book 1) and Forbidden Sanctuary (Star Lawyers Book 2) are live while The Blue King Murders (Star Lawyers Book 3) is in pre-order. If you didn’t read it yet, the prequel to the series is also available and you can Download my free short story here!

You can also learn more about me in the about section of this website.

Sexy Humanoid Aliens

Sexy Humanoid Alien

Sexy Humanoid Aliens

Sexy Humanoid Aliens—How Likely?

Most sci-fi Writing—books, teleplays and screenplays—feature humans in the lead role. Makes sense. If you want to sell dog foods you need to feature a dog in the promo. But even smart dogs can’t buy their own grub, so advertising shows attractive women or men playing with and preparing delicious vittles for their four-legged friends. Humans are hopelessly anthropocentric. Probably so with any intelligent species.

But how likely is it that future explorers will encounter sexy aliens who look like garden variety Homo sapiens, plus pointy ears and oddly tinted coloring? Sci-fi writers have succumbed to the temptation with wild abandon. The conquests of Captain James Tiberius Kirk are not limited to space combat. There was that hot scene with the green “Orion slave girl.” (James Bondage?)

Humans in the Trek universe have shared beds with Betazoids (Counselor Troi—yum!), Trills, Vulcans, Bajorans, Kazons (rejected for assimilation by the Borg—yuk!), the short-lived Ocampa, and others. It’s a plot device to inject sex and romance into the pseudo-geek-speak world of running a starship at warp speed. TNG’s Riker even flirts with a pair of Klingon female warriors, whom he jokingly offers to bed in a threesome. (You dodged a phaser blast, Will. They would have killed you with rough love.)

How possible is this? Scientists have smiled politely, like visiting scholars watching a third grade Halloween pageant, then issued condescending disclaimers about the impossibility of finding human-like species in large numbers, if we ever did develop the scientifically impossible, faster-than-light technologies needed “to boldly go” where nobody’s ever gone before. (They might even mention the split infinite.)

Alien Life will be… well.. alien

After all, alien life out there will be… well… alien. To paraphrase 20th century thinker Arthur Eddington, it will be stranger than we are capable of imagining. Okay, let’s play with that thought a little. We know only one habitable planet so far. Earth, sometimes called Terra in sci-fi literature. (I use both, but favor Terra.) What happened here, on the human homeworld?

Bilaterally symmetrical, bipedal creatures have developed rather profusely. Velociraptor to Homo sapiens, who were definitely not related. Some creatures, like lemurs and grizzlies, acquired optional bipedalism—front legs to help them run—but also to manipulate edibles and climb trees. Eyeballs evolved at least forty different times along unrelated evolutionary paths.

Humanoid Aliens – Why the similarities?

Because when creatures needed to navigate their world and grasp prey, front limbs became arms and hands. When they needed to see the world by visible light, evolution provided eyes in abundance.

Evolution isn’t going somewhere; it is not a program running until it produces an advanced creature. Evolution is a response to the needs of the organism, usually from environmental or demographic pressures. Limbs with hands can manipulate tools, increasing the creature’s survival options. Opposing thumbs make gripping those tools easier. Eyes, ears, and noses consolidated in a skull containing the animal’s brain make sensory input quicker, enables comparison among sounds, scents, and sights, again providing survival benefits. And placing the mouth in the head allows a two-legged creature to watch for danger while munching fruit, leaves, or prey.

Given the advantages of the five-star, humanoid shape for the development of tools and technology, is it really likely we will encounter no other species in the galaxy who are similarly configured?

Now, if we meet comely aliens who are inclined toward mixed-species dating… You might wonder whether Tab A would fit in Slot B? That’s a question of artistic license, and from the look of busty alien princesses on the covers of sci-fi literature, I think that license has not yet expired. (Thank you, Cap’n Kirk!)

In my Books

See the first volume in my new series, Star Lawyers Book 1 – Jump Gate Omega, to meet the Suryadivans, humanoid aliens who are not sexually compatible with Homo sapiens. (The blue-skinned, green-blooded, and seriously hot Empress Veraposta doesn’t appear until Book 3.)

Knife Fight at Olathe-5

Star Lawyers Book 1 – Jump Gate Omega releases June 10thmeantime, my prequel to the series is available and you can Download my free short story here!

You can also learn more about me in the about section of this website.

LOVE vs. SEX:  THE FINAL FRONTIER?

Love vs Sex

LOVE vs. SEX:  THE FINAL FRONTIER?

Why are so many stories about love either sloppily sentimental, cynical or tragic? Why do books about love outsell all the other fiction genres combined? Maybe because we think we know what love is, and maybe we don’t know what it is at all.

Lumped under the generic heading of love, you will find parenthood (especially motherhood), family, religion, patriotism, personal tastes, dating, making out, friendship, sex, romance, adultery, and marriage. (And the list goes on…)

People need to sort these into separate baskets, but the English language fails us here. There is no other word that works in most of these cases. For example, what else can we call our feelings of patriotism but love of country? Desire of country doesn’t work. National pride isn’t strong enough, and the word patriotism itself has a hollow ring these days. What shall we call the sex act, except making love? Oh, I know, there are a few delightful possibilities. Most of us in the writing game freely toss alternatives around like effin’ flapjacks. But public, daily vocabulary isn’t ready to separate tenderness from doing the wild thing by employing act-specific terms when one inoffensive, four-letter word—love—covers the whole menu. (“I’ll have the Love Feast Special, please. No garlic butter.”)

Love in Science-Fiction

Good science fiction usually features a romantic subplot—Han and Leia, James T. Kirk and anything with a vagina. However—forgive me Romance writers—a good sci-fi story is plot or technology driven and not primarily about the sex life of the dashing, starship captain and our heroine, the busty alien princess. (Although in my Star Lawyers Book Three, Tyler Matthews and the blue Queen Veraposta—naw, you gotta read it.)

Just because main characters hop into bed under alien moons doesn’t make the love-interest, well, interesting. That takes an engaging storyline with nicely flawed players who battle and embrace and learn that real love is harder than orbiting a black hole without becoming its lunch. The original Star Wars trilogy approaches this level, and I contend that’s one of the reasons it is perennially popular.

Love in Literature and Movies

Literature is full of romance. Even Shakespeare, whose heroines were played by pubescent boys in stodgy, Elizabethan England, splashes love across the pages of his scripts like a drunken sailor spilling wine. American movies are punch-drunk over love. The plot of the second biggest movie of all times is, “The Love Boat Hits an Iceberg.” The biggest all-time moneymaker: “Blue lovers in an Ecological Thriller.”

While movies usually have a love interest, Hollywood lied to us, and the producers almost always get it wrong. For lovers who stroll the silver screen, love usually equals sexual attraction, impure and simple. This observation is a gross oversimplification, but the genius of the original Star Wars trilogy was not just its technology or special effects or combat scenes, but in the development of relationships.

Although sex and eroticism plays an important part in male-female relationships, it is by no means the singular or even most important element. So why, if we spend so much money and energy on love, do we get it wrong so often? Here are a few quick thoughts.

Love in our culture

Much of what passes for love in our culture is really:

  1. Sensual attraction and sexuality. Must be there, but it’s a thin foundation.
  2. Glamour. “She was so beautiful…” Okay, but do you like each other?”
  3. Romance and infatuation are not love. Courtship ends—then what?
  4. Neurotic dependency. “I can’t live without her/him…” Yes, you can.
  5. Ego gratification. Reader and fictional characters often will opt for this.
  6. Fear of loneliness. Can bring a compelling sub-tone, storyline or real life.
  7. Convenience and routine. The older I get, the more #6 & 7 appeal to me.

This is not to say that romance and sensuality/sexuality are a bad thing—right the contrary. It’s the beginning point in most relationships not contracted by families for young people. And speaking of alternative ideas about love from cultures around planet Earth, these include:

What Love can be

  1. A commitment, loyalty or duty Don’t flinch. Fidelity and familial identity are almost universal values.
  2. Friendship. Youth to golden age, you’ll fare better if you continue to like each other.
  3. Selfless giving. The golden rule never measures penis size. It is a gauge of the heart.

Some more Thoughts

So, if I suggest a little reflection on the depth and complexity of human love will tidy up the storylines of sci-fi literature, what do you think will happen when writers explore love among alien cultures, or alien-human relationships? Several good authors have done this. I will leave it to you to find them and share your discoveries with readers of this blog.

Meanwhile, now that I’ve set the bar for multifaceted interpretations of love among the many space-faring star nations in the galaxy, I’ll have to continue developing a rich cultural milieu for every race my human characters encounter going forward. To include their love lives. (You’re gonna love the Quirt-Thymeans in The Blue King Murders.)

Knife Fight at Olathe-5

Meantime, my prequel to the series is available and you can Download my free short story here!

You can also learn more about me in the about section of this website.

Why Science Fiction is Vital to Human Survival

Science Fiction Asteroid Hitting the Earth

Why Science Fiction is Vital to Human Survival

“Without vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18)

Dinosaurs Didn’t Write Science Fiction

You don’t ordinarily associate dinosaurs and KJV biblical texts, but roll with me a sec. The idea that vision–or prophecy, or seeing the future, sameo-sameo–is essential to the survival of a species couldn’t find a better exemplar than the poor, dumb Mesozoic critters who looked up at the sky and noticed a  big streaker sailing across the heavens. If they had the gift of speech–oh, hell, let’s give it to them, we’re sci-fi readers and writers–they might have said something like:

“Damn, my brother Triceratops, what is that pretty light in the sky?”

To which the other replied, “I don’t know, fellow Horny-Head, but it’s way up there and can’t hurt us.”

You know what happened in Act II.

Any species that doesn’t look to the skies is doomed

Any species that doesn’t look to the skies is doomed to the same fate, sooner or later.  That’s the first, most basic reason sci-fi is vitally important. It looks up and out and says, “What if…?”

Many early science fiction movies captured this primordial fear by casting an ensemble of bug-eyed, tentacled monsters to land on Earth with their invasion fleet, intent on eating all human males and raping all the females. I never understood, even as a kid, why a gray-green octopus with a ray gun wanted to ravish a white, blonde haired, B-movie actress.

The real danger isn’t from incoming flying saucers, it’s incoming asteroids in near earth orbits. Science fiction has raised the public awareness to this existential threat by movies like Armageddon and Deep Impact and a barrage of novels with similar plot lines.

The lethal asteroid impact may occur next year, or it may not happen until Trump leaves office, and therefore take some of the fun out of prematurely ending the world.  Doomsday could linger a few million years. Politicians are in no hurry.  But there are more pressing reasons why sci-fi is vital to our survival.

Science fiction raises humanity’s sights

Science fiction raises humanity’s sights on something at least as primeval as daily survival: We are, by nature, explorers. Without that vision, we perish. “Space, the final frontier…” Gene Roddenberry prophetically wrote. But he was wrong. Space is the endless frontier.

Let’s do the math. There are 400 billion stars in the Milky Way alone. Visiting one thousand star systems per week (if possible), would take 7.69 million years. And there may be 100 billion galaxies out there. Humanity will NEVER run out of new world to visit, new peoples to meet. The trick will be to learn from  our mistakes and not repeat the gruesome, racist, xenophobic history of planet Earth. Another possibility is that alien species are as bloodthirsty as we have been, and humans will have to fight for every newly discovered, uninhabited world. (For a harrowing look at that possibility, read Old Man’s War by John Scalzi.)

We could simply become cosmic isolationists

We could simply become cosmic isolationists, for fear of discovery by the bug-eyed monsters who, so far, have overlook our pale blue marble in the ocean of stars. But sitting on Earth until the atmosphere escapes into space in the distant future doesn’t sound like a good plan. Science fiction allows its most creative thinkers to give us the vision hinted at by the Book of Proverbs. Let the visionaries and futurists show us the possibilities.

In an era before the key words shifted to other connotations, British scientist J.B.S. Haldane (1892-1964) wrote: “The universe is not only queerer than we imagine, it’s queerer than we can imagine.” And who knows? Maybe we’ll land on our first alien world in the middle of their bi-monthly Gay Rights Parade.

Science Fiction will save the world. If not, maybe it’ll help us get off. (Double meanings seem to abound today…)

Knife Fight at Olathe-5

Do you want to discover my own Science Fiction stories? Download my free short story! You can also learn more about me in the about section of this website!